Kumi Naidoo of Greenpeace and the indigenous elders who came to Paris for the Climate Negotiations are correct in their assessment.
As the elders say, “We have misplaced our trust in governmental leaders and the leaders of industry. They failed us by trying to maintain their profits, economies and their power over the people . . . Those seeking profit and power have created a business of war and destruction that now threatens the lives of billions around the world . . . We can no longer wait for solutions from governmental and corporate leaders. We must all take action and responsibility to restore a healthy relationship with each other and Mother Earth.”
And as Naidoo says, “We need substantial, structural, systemic change – and this change can only be led by the youth, who are not infected by the political pollution of the past.”
With this wisdom in mind, I should like to offer some advice to the youth who are seeking “substantial, structural, systemic change.” It concerns two needs: 1) a general raising of consciousness; and 2) the development of new institutions.
At CPNN we are very familiar with the challenge of raising consciousness. In contrast to the dominant culture of war that uses the mass media to justify their power and their violence, we are part of a growing movement of alternative media that seeks to provide what the people are seeking: the truth.
Of course, the truth is not simple. As Gandhi teaches us, the truth is mountain that we are climbing by many different paths, often invisible to each other. We may not always understand each other’s truth, but we can always recognize the falsehoods of the propaganda for the culture of war by its emphasis on violence, fear and passivity.
Never before have so many people come to the truth that we need a world without war.
What is more difficult is the development of new institutions. It often seems that the state has already pre-empted the possibilities for institution-building. But the state, as I have shown in the History of the Culture of War, has come over the centuries to monopolize war to the point that it has become itself the embodiment of the culture of war. Even when revolutionaries have sought to end war by taking over the state, they have simply ended up by creating new cultures of war.
However, the state is neither stable nor necessary.
Several times each century the state system collapses from the contradictions of its culture of war. In the 20th Century we can point to four such crashes, two of them from the two world wars and two of them from the economic contradictions of the culture of war (the Great Depression and the crash of the Soviet empire).
Nor are states necessary. Human needs, as well as care of the environment, can be handled by local and regional government and coordinated at a global level by institutions such as those of the UN system. For what is the state necessary? For wars and war preparation and for the guarding of frontiers.
So here is my advice: don’t worry about the state, but strengthen local, regional and global institutions that can replace the state next time the system crashes, so that we can arrive at a world without war or frontiers.